Mahathir, Hadi & the future of the unity government


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It’s really pathetic to see the way Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Hadi Awang keep pushing the dishonest, deceitful and disingenuous assertion that the Malays are facing yet another existential threat from the non-Malays. They claim that non-Malays control the current unity government, that the Malays have lost power, that Malay rights are being undermined and that the position of Islam itself is under threat. 

It is, of course, a preposterous and absurd assertion. The last time I checked, the Malay rulers were all still on their thrones; 95% of all senior government, civil service, GLCs and academic positions were still firmly in Malay-Muslim hands. As well, the prime minister and most of his cabinet are all Malay-Muslims. 

But Mahathir and Hadi are not stupid; they know that Malay-Muslim power and privilege have never been more secure. This is all about their own ambitions, egos and agendas. Hadi is angry and frustrated that he didn’t get to be prime minister; Mahathir simply cannot accept that the man whom he laboured for decades to crush is now prime minister.

They are willing to plunge the nation into racial and religious discord, perhaps even strife, just to bring down the government of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. 

In tandem with Mahathir, Hadi is now ramping up his attacks on non-Muslims, threatening their safety, accusing them of corrupting the nation and trying to block Malay-Muslim progress.[1] And for good measure, he also said that non-Muslims are unfit to lead the country.[2]

Whether or not non-Muslims will make good leaders is open to debate, but what is beyond question is that every single government since independence has been led by Malay-Muslims. If the country is in a mess today, it must be because some of these leaders were clearly unfit for the job. 

Mahathir himself was prime minister for about a third of our existence as an independent nation. He left us a devastating legacy of unbridled corruption and racism that we are still struggling to recover from. The fact that he (along with his entire team) lost his deposit in the last election shows that the Malays themselves have lost faith in him.  

Hadi and the mullahs are no better. They preach a religion of peace but sow hate and division at every turn.  As well, PAS rule is everywhere synonymous with economic stagnation and social problems. 

And let’s not forget Hadi’s own dismal performance as Menteri Besar Terengganu. Penang under the DAP has emerged as the most prosperous state in the federation; Terengganu under Hadi never progressed. So, who’s really unfit to rule? 

Mahathir himself, in one of his saner moments, noted that Hadi is unfit to lead any government and has no business in politics.[3] Now he’s ready to join forces with the same “unfit” person to “save” the Malays. These people clearly have no principles or integrity.

Of course, the DAP – long the presumptive standard-bearer of non-Malay aspirations – is always a convenient target. Both Mahathir and Hadi were happy to hold hands with the DAP and sing their praises when they needed DAP and non-Malay support. Suddenly, the DAP is the devil incarnate and non-Muslims are the corrupt of the earth.

Both Mahathir and Hadi say that the DAP is actually controlling the unity government; that is simply laughable. Though the DAP has the second highest number of seats in parliament (40 out of 222), it actually has even less power and influence than UMNO (26 seats) or GPS (23 seats).

In order to appease the ultras inside and outside the unity government, the DAP had to agree to hamstring itself, give up most of the principles it once fought for and keep its head down whenever something controversial crops up. This is how non-Malay political parties have traditionally “shared” power at the federal level. Parties like MCA, MIC and Gerakan learned this lesson a long time ago. Now it’s the DAP’s turn; and they are fast learners.

But even the DAP’s self-castration is still apparently not enough to satisfy men like Mahathir and Hadi. 

The only thing that remains to be seen now is how Malay voters will respond to the incitement and instigation of Mahathir and Hadi. If they buy into it – by swinging behind Perikatan Nasional in the upcoming state elections – the unity government’s days might be numbered along with Malaysia’s future as a secular constitutional democracy. 

[Dennis Ignatius | Kuala Lumpur | 07 June 2023]

[1] Hadi Awang: “Safety of non-Muslims will be in jeopardy if they take extreme stance against Islam” | Focus Malaysia |01 June 2023

[2] Hadi says Pakatan’s non-Muslims unfit to lead country |Malaysian Insight | 01 June 2023

[3] Go teach in the villages, Mahathir tells PAS President Hadi Awang in tit-for-tat row | Straits Times |18 April 2018